• Tom Bozzuto's Blog

    I'm Tom Bozzuto, CEO & Chairman of The Bozzuto Group. With this blog, I hope to provide you with insight into and thoughts regarding our company, our industries and the terrific work of our employees. Thank you for visiting -- I look forward to the conversation.

    Tom Bozzuto Blog
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The Edamame Economy

January 13, 2014
Design, Development, Featured, Reflections

In an opinion piece published January 7th in the New York Times, titled “The Edamame Economy,” David Brooks writes about the changing design of hotels in America. The column is in itself unusual coming from someone who is more often found writing about politics and political culture.  The only disappointment I had with the article is that it doesn’t deal at all with how the cultural changes he describes have influenced the apartment industry and apartment design.

In his column, Brooks describes at length some of the extraordinary changes that have taken place in hotel design through the years and how what has evolved reflects very changing demands by consumers.  He shows how hotel design has changed from a time past when you “could go around the world and the hotels were largely the same…efficient and bland, offering quality service and ease of movement”, to today, when “the computer age has brought about” what Brooks describes as “the mass boutique.”

He describes how in an age when the internet has turned virtually everything into a commodity, more and more of the public want a product that they feel has some unique quality, some “integrity,” that makes it different than other products serving the same purpose. He notes that in recent years, there has been a “creative brand explosion.” Through this, companies have created products that perhaps are purchased less because of their inherent quality and more because there is something about the experience associated with the products’ consumption that creates the value. Brooks says “the market has taken one commodity product after another and turned it into an emotional experience.”  And isn’t that what those of us who think of ourselves as apartment professionals do every day?

For years, it has frustrated me when I’ve heard colleagues or academics describe the apartment business as one that is commoditized. I resist that definition in part because I know that the only way to be successful in dealing with commodities is to make and sell them cheaper than everyone else. And to be the cheapest guy in town usually requires both being very large and somewhat careless about quality, two features that have never appealed to me.

But what everyone with eyes has learned from hotel operations like the “W”, or more pervasively from Starbucks coffee shops, is that people will value a product enough to pay more and even go out of their way to consume it if you provide an “experience” that is different than what they can easily obtain elsewhere. That is what the better companies in the apartment business try to do every day.

I mean, let’s face it, to some degree, a bed is a bed is a bed.  So, why pay more for one than another?  The really good apartment operators, from their locational choice, through the design of their communities to the level of services they provide, know how to differentiate the beds, the rooms, the apartments, the communities they offer from those operated by their competitors. They worry about design details – everything from the location of the windows to the material and color of the cabinets inside the apartments to the amount and design of the amenities spaces supporting the apartments. And with service as well, the first rate operators try to create an environment that makes the apartment community feel special, distinctive, and very much a home.

Apartments designed today are dramatically different than those designed twenty or even ten years ago. Most often today there is some retail in or near the new property. Typically the apartment unit itself is smaller and the finishes much “higher.”  Virtually no one used granite countertops twenty years ago. Today, granite is almost passé. I can remember building one of the first apartment projects with in-unit washers and driers. No one today would build without these.

Public space in apartment communities used to be largely confined to a big lounge with an even bigger television. Today, public areas are an increasingly dominant feature in the community where every space looks like it was designed so that the consumer can sit with his or her computer and do whatever it is they do. And they are, with Wi-Fi everywhere, including the swimming pool deck. And each developer and each architect try to make their public space just a little bit unique, just a little bit different, and just a little special.

So with apartments, as with hotels, David Brooks’ observations hold true. There may not be, as he said, “an endless supply”, but there are certainly a great number of “consumers who have boutique identities and aspirations,” and success generally comes to the businessperson who figures out how to provide the experiences that satisfy those aspirations.

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Happy Veterans’ Day

November 11, 2013
Featured, Reflections

As I encouraged my colleagues to celebrate and be grateful to our veterans on the one day a year on which we show them our gratitude, someone asked me how being a veteran had affected my life in the workforce, and specifically, how it had prepared me to run a company.  My initial reaction was to say “not very much,” since, after all, I had been an enlisted man who never had command of anything larger than the platoon football pool.  But, on reflection, I suspect that my initial reaction was wrong.

The more I think about what I learned in the Army that might have a bearing on my career in business the longer the list gets.  A few of those lessons come quickly to mind.

Most importantly, I think I learned how to treat everyone equally.  After all, when you are in basic training and it’s twenty degrees and you’re crawling on your belly in the frozen mud trying to stay below the bullets on the live-fire range, it doesn’t make much difference where you went to college or where you grew up or what color you are, you are all in the mud together.

You also get to watch a lot of different leadership styles.  And while you seldom had a choice of obeying or not, the enthusiasm with which one followed orders clearly reflected on the skill of the leader.  Personally, I learned that I hated taking orders and that I was much more likely to respond to a polite request followed by an expression of gratitude than a direct order. But that may explain why I didn’t make a career of the service.

The military also teaches you how to put up with the bad stuff that happens to all of us in our lives.  We learned how to laugh through it and keep ourselves focused on the thing that would bring that bad stuff to an end.

We also learned how to focus on the bigger picture and not let the little stuff get us down.  And we learned how to think under pressure.

There’s a lot more that I believe most of us learned while in the service.  Maybe it’s stuff everyone learns over time, but in the military you tend to learn it a lot faster, and it tends to stay with you longer. And maybe that’s the reason we like to hire veterans in our company.

Happy Veterans’ Day.

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Understanding The Renter of Today

In a recent news article, I was quoted as saying that Congress and the lay press don’t really understand the apartment industry.  This was after I had spoken before a Congressional subcommittee in the Capitol.  The quote continued to note my frustration that the Republicans on the committee wanted to ignore apartments and spend their time saluting the single family home; and the Democrats only wanted to discuss subsidized housing.

After that article appeared, several of my colleagues at The Bozzuto Group expressed both surprise and dismay at this observation and have asked me to elaborate. I will attempt to do so here.

For many of us who are active in the business of developing, building or maintaining apartments, and even for those of us at companies like mine where we also build and sell homes,  it seems obvious that what we do not only fulfills an important need, it is of value to the American public.  Whether we create and run high-end rental housing or apartments for people of more limited means, we know that what we do has great value.  We know that there is demand for what we do. We know that we are providing the homes of Americans just as much as we are when we build homes for ownership. At our company, and in our industry, we are proud of what we do.

Furthermore, between 35 and 40 percent of Americans rent. Yet, in my experience and as my morning in the Capitol demonstrated, most of our public officials still think of these people as those who cannot afford homeownership. In this view, Americans are divided into two camps:  those who own homes and those who want to. There seems to be a belief that if you rent, it is because you either lack the funds to buy a home or you are too young to do so.  And in either case, the politicians seem to believe that you are unimportant if you rent because, they believe, if you rent, you don’t vote.

The historical reasons for this mindset would require a book to explain. So I won’t even try here.  But the fallacy of this belief – this conviction that everyone should own a home – should have been demonstrated clearly by the recent housing collapse where public policy, excess liquidity in the marketplace and rampant greed (on the part of not just the lending and realty industries but also those who bought more home than they could afford) combined to put many Americans into serious, and in many cases, devastating financial trouble.

But many public officials, and certainly a lot of the public, still don’t understand. They still live under the old paradigm. Somebody needs to tell them: This is no longer the fifties. Many people rent in America as a matter of choice, not necessity. Many of these people love the flexibility renting provides. Many like that renting allows them to live in places where they couldn’t afford to buy.   These people, these renters, are contributing members of the community who hold full-time jobs, spend money, volunteer in their community and vote.

Now, let there be no confusion about my personal perspective.  I am not against homeownership. Far from it. I have owned a home for thirty-some years. My company builds beautiful homes for sale and I’m very proud of that. But I have always believed that the decision whether to buy or rent is not an economic choice, or at least not primarily so.

Lots of arguments and examples can be used to show that owning a home is either a better or worse economic investment over time than is renting and investing what would have been a down payment.  I’m not going to get into that economic debate here. No, the decision to rent or buy should be a lifestyle choice.  If you value your flexibility, you should rent. If you are at a point in your life where you have a level of social stability – you are not likely to change jobs, change communities, change mates – and you can afford the maintenance that comes with homeownership – then perhaps owning makes more sense.  But the decision should be made, like every other, with a clear understanding of the trade-offs.

So yes, the public and public officials largely don’t know much about the apartment business and they clearly don’t understand who the renter of today is. Anything any of us who work in the rental industry can do to increase the awareness of who rents today and why, we should do.  The National Multi Housing Council and the National Apartment Association, in an effort to address this issue, have created a new website that does a great job of this. I call your attention to www.weareapartments.org.

And through their political action efforts, these associations are working to inform our elected officials. But, this effort can’t be purely left to the associations. We each must use our contacts and influence to make the public aware that renters deserve to be treated with the same respect and dignity as are those of us who own homes.

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Guest Post: The Sharing Economy – Just When We Needed It

July 22, 2013
Guest Post, Management

By Julie Smith, President, Bozzuto Management Company

**This article orginially appeared in Delta Associates’ Mid-Year 2013 Mid-Atlantic Class A Apartment Market report.

We have been waiting, patiently, for what feels like a long time now.   The Gen Y renters — the ones that have been at the forefront of our development ideas and efforts — have finally arrived.  Or at least we are seeing a lot more of them moving into our communities. And not a moment too soon, because we have a lot of new apartments in the Washington region and many more in the pipeline.

That said, from our vantage point, the outlook is very encouraging. The data from our own portfolio clearly illustrates that in the past 12 months there have been fundamental shifts:

  • The dramatic increase in the number of new renters in the 20 – 30 age group have grown by more than 16% — shaving about 5 years off the age of the average renter.
  • At the same time, the average income of these renters has increased by more than 10%. There are far more renters earning more than $100,000 and far fewer earning less than $50,000. And even with rents that have been steadily increasing since 2010, affordability does not appear to be an issue. In fact, renters across the region are spending far less on rent as a percentage of total income than in other major metropolitan areas across the country.  With a strong employment base, Washington looks like a pretty good deal right now.
  • While the percent of single person households has decreased, the number of apartments occupied by roommates has increased at twice the rate.  Why is that such a good thing?  Because those two renters in one apartment are just one raise or job promotion away from becoming renters in two apartments.  We have embedded demand in our buildings today.

These renters, with disposable income, are fueling communities where we as developers and  investors have placed a very large bet. We bet on the success of new urban and suburban infill projects in urbanizing areas. These new renters are enthusiastically supporting the retailers and restaurants in these burgeoning new neighborhoods, encouraging more of the same. This is creating better and stronger communities and making Washington a better place to live.

And the word must be out; nearly 40% of our applicants are moving in from outside of the Washington region.  And they are quickly learning that the District of Columbia is a not only a dynamic place to live, but also one where you can easily live without owning a car.  One out of three of our residents are getting by without a car today. Those who use public transportation have increased by 4% in the past year.   We should expect to see fewer cars in our garages going forward  as Zipcar, Car Share and Uber become household words and frequently used apps. Today, having a Capital Bikeshare at the entrance of your building is considered a great amenity and one that you do not have to fund!

These transitions in taste and spending beg the question:   Has the paradigm permanently shifted with this growing group of renters?   Are we moving to a society where the notion of owning anything is really overrated?  Affordability does not appear to be the root cause in these changes. Instead, young people today appear to value access over ownership; flexibility over permanency.  Peer-to-peer software combined with mobile technology allows access to whatever is needed  for as long as it is needed.   This is true at every level of luxury and quality.    The practice has also gone mainstream.  The success of companies such as AirBnB,  Uber, Zipcar and Netflix, to name a few have changed the way we think about travel, transportation, work, entertainment, and  housing. And the “ownership shift”  does not belong solely to the Millennial.  This ambivalence towards ownership is crossing generational lines, driven more by a change in thinking than anything else.  It is a different kind of consumption.  For many, it translates into a better quality of life.

So, is the notion of using things that you do not own a new form of freedom?   It looks like a pretty smart option from here.   As this momentum grows, we  find our industry sitting in the catbird seat at the center of this new mindset.  And when we are able to leverage our position in this new marketplace to our advantage, it will have been worth the wait indeed.

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A Place We All Want to Work

Our company, The Bozzuto Group, has just been selected by the Washington Business Journal as one of the best companies in the greater Washington area for which to work.  This is the sixth time we have received this honor, making us only one of four companies in our category to have achieved this mark.

Of all the awards, recognition and honors our industry has generously bestowed on us, this one is the most meaningful.  The reason is that the magazine’s selection is done based on an annual survey of the company’s employees.  So, if our employees are not “happy” (probably not the best word for this but it will have to do), our company is not going to make this list.

But why is making the list important anyway?  It’s important because unless the people who work for a company enjoy their job, there is simply no way that your customers will enjoy doing business with you.  For example, we’ve all traveled on airlines where we know the employees feel abused, taken advantage of and unappreciated.  We can tell because that’s how they treat the customer. And how inclined are you to use that airline again?

I believe it is not only important but critical that every person in a company feel some sense of identity with the organization.  People who are part of a team have to think of it is as their team, or their behavior and efforts reflect that detachment.  How many times have you had a bad customer experience only to have the company’s representative ask you to forgive him, he’s not really at fault, he doesn’t set the prices or make the policies, it’s the people in corporate who do that?  And again, how inclined are you to buy from that company in the future?

So, if you want to have a company that has customer loyalty, I think it pretty important to start by worrying about employee loyalty.  And while I won’t pretend to be an expert in describing what it takes to make every employee happy, I can tell you what has made me happy or content or motivated as an employee.  These are the ideas that my partners and I have tried to bring to running The Bozzuto Group.

For us, it boils down to just a few things.  First, there needs to be a sense of direction—that we (whoever is running the company) know where we are going and that it is communicated openly to all employees.

There have to be shared values; one of the worst things in an organization is to have colleagues whose behavior embarrasses you.

There has to be a sense that your efforts are appreciated, and this needs to be communicated reasonably often.

There has to be a perception of opportunity, both corporate and personal.

And oh yeah, compensation has to be “fair,” a word I seldom use but by which I mean that one needs to be earning something reasonably close to what one thinks she or he is worth.

Now, I could go on at great length and elaborate on each of these points but I’m not going to, at least not here or now.   The purpose of this blog really is to thank all of the members of The Bozzuto Group, all of those on our team, for their efforts in making the company a place where we all want to work.

Thank you for your efforts in making this one of the best places to work in Washington.   We are truly honored by this selection.  Yet, I also have a favor to ask of you.

As we continue to grow, I ask for your sustained help in making sure each new employee understands our values, our mission and our way of doing business.

Again, thank you for this great honor.  Thank you for giving us the opportunity to work with you.

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Guest Post: We Can’t Be A One-Company Town

April 16, 2013
Guest Post, Reflections

This bylined article, authored by Bozzuto founding partner John Slidell, is reprinted from the April 12, 2013 issue of the Washington Business Journal.

http://www.bizjournals.com/washington/print-edition/2013/04/12/we-cant-be-a-one-company-town.html

A lot of people in this region are talking about how to get us to act as a region, but we just keep talking. It’s time for action. We are now at a pivotal point in our local economic life cycle.

The Greater Washington metropolitan area has, for decades, enjoyed unparalleled growth and prosperity, largely fueled by a steady increase in federal government spending and procurement strategies that have created jobs within the region. Private businesses, including large corporations, have become so accustomed to the steady growth fueled by federal spending that they have neither identified nor acted upon the need for their proactive involvement in the economic development of the region.

However, according to Economy Forward, a report from the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments released in September 2012, the economic underpinnings that the government provides in this region are threatened. Our region ranked 13th out of 15 in terms of growth among major metro areas from December 2010 to December 2011. Between 2010 and 2015, the share of metropolitan Washington’s gross regional product derived from federal government spending is forecast to decline by 3.5 percent.

The metro area will no longer thrive as a one-company town. The region is now in a global competition for high-skilled workers and private sector employers, and our public and private sector leaders need to work together like never before to create and implement a strategy to successfully grow the economy.

This is the new reality for the region. Leaders in Washington, from all sectors, must forge a strong and effective economic development collaboration involving government officials at all levels, private sector employers, and academic and nonprofit institutions.

The business community here is in a unique position to proactively affect industry growth and diversity. The Urban Land Institute’s core mission is convening and bringing together disparate entities to solve land use challenges. Over the past year, a group of ULI members, the Regionalism Initiative Council, has been meeting to address issues facing the region. Now, ULI is working to move the needle forward. The process ULI recommends for action is creating a strong, multisector coalition to develop a focused regional business plan for our area, with public, private, nonprofit, philanthropic and institutional stakeholders working together.

There are plenty of challenges to tackle in our region. They include the region’s transportation congestion issues, funding stability and reliability for Metro and all of our regional transit systems. We also need new infrastructure investment mechanisms that direct investment to targeted activity centers to maximize benefits and planning for adequate utility capacity to provide water, sewer services and electricity to handle the loads generated by future growth of the region. Prioritizing these challenges and creating an action plan to address them is everyone’s business.

As important as the action agenda will eventually be, forming the coalition to tackle the problems is just as important. This spring, ULI Washington has initiated an outreach process to existing organizations including the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, the Greater Washington Board of Trade, the 2030 Group, the Chesapeake Crescent Initiative and the Federal City Council.

Early conversations indicate that these organizations are eager to move the region forward together. Individual stakeholders at the leadership level of the region’s largest employers, anchor institutions (hospitals, colleges, and universities), local elected councils and boards, local economic development departments and others are being approached currently, and ULI Washington is building a coalition that will develop a regional business plan. A coalition kickoff meeting will be scheduled for early summer to begin the process.

The bottom line is this: Right now, there is almost no one in this region who wakes up every day thinking about what the region needs to prosper in the future and no dedicated group of leaders moving a broad coalition forward in the same direction. The ULI outreach effort will catalyze regional leaders to create such a person or people and an institutional structure to back the work with financial and human resources. It doesn’t matter where the leadership rests, either in an existing organization or a new one, but there must be coordinated forward motion.

John B. Slidell is district council chair for the Urban Land Institute, Washington, and founding partner of The Bozzuto Group.

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Bozzuto’s 25th Anniversary: A Look at our Future

As we begin to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the company, which my partners, John Slidell, Rick Mostyn, the late Bernie Lubcher and I began in 1988, we look to 2013 as a year to celebrate our successes, reflect on our past, and express gratitude to those who have played an integral role in getting us to where we are now. And as we consider our past and look towards our future, I’m reminded of particular moments that became turning points in our company’s history.

Today, I believe we experienced one of those moments. I am writing to share several announcements that will undoubtedly shape the future of the company that makes me so proud.

My first announcement is one that I make with mixed emotions. John Slidell, co-founder and Vice Chairman of The Bozzuto Group, and President of Bozzuto Land Company, will be stepping down from day-to-day operations of the company to have more time to pursue other interests. I am thrilled for my partner and friend of more than 25 years, but we all, and I especially, will miss his daily insight, guidance, wisdom and special brand of wit.   I know that all who have met and worked with John over the years join me in wishing him all the best as he transitions into his new role and prepares to experience new adventures.

Secondly, it is with great pride that I announce the promotion of my son, Toby Bozzuto, to the position of President of The Bozzuto Group.  Toby, who has been with the company almost twelve years (and who has lived with it two-thirds of his life), has shown great leadership in his former role as President of Bozzuto Development Company.  While he will continue to play an integral role within that company, he will now assume overall responsibility for the day-to-day direction of The Bozzuto Group.

Thirdly, I am delighted to announce the promotion of Steve Strazzella to President of Bozzuto Development Company.  Steve, who has also been with us more than a decade, has overseen some of our largest construction and development projects and has been a leader in finding new development opportunities.  He has worked very closely with Toby in providing direction to BDC the past few years, and I look forward to watching him continue our legacy of innovation and quality in our new developments.

I have said many times that our people are the foundation of this company, and today I want to recognize the incredible talent and successes of our employees, and particularly those of John, Toby and Steve.

As we transition to a new era of Bozzuto leadership, some things will stay the same. I will remain in my role as Chairman and CEO of The Bozzuto Group and Rick Mostyn will continue in his role as Chief Operating Officer as he has these past five years.

And most importantly, our core values and our vision for the company remain the same. We will continue to be guided by a fundamental belief in Concern, Creativity, Passion and the Pursuit of Perfection.  And as always, we remain committed to our goal of being the best real estate company in the country.

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Improving our Transportation Infrastructure: Thoughts from a Builder

November 26, 2012
Construction, Featured, Reflections

There has been a lot of discourse in the local media lately about the need for transportation funding in Maryland and Virginia, with some folks arguing that all of whatever money is available should be spent on mass transit. Others argue that while mass transit is important, we need to spend most of the money we have on highway improvements. As a builder, this is an issue about which I have an opinion and, guessing that the purpose of a blog is to offer an opinion, I will do so here.

First, as a reminder for anyone who reads this, my company has long been involved in developing, building and managing high density housing. We have been building in planned community and urban areas for most of the time we have been in business. We have built, and love to build, right on or adjoining public transit sites. We love Smart Growth. We believe in and have practiced Transit Oriented Development. We think of ourselves as a company that will thrive as America becomes increasingly urbanized.

Secondly, and before getting into the issue of how transit money should be spent, it seems important to make the point that it needs to be spent. Despite the need to pay down our national debt, we desperately need to spend money to improve the infrastructure in this country. If one looks at developed and developing countries around the world, what clearly differentiates prospering countries from those in which economic development has been held back is the level of national commitment to infrastructure. There was once a time when America’s commitment to its infrastructure allowed us to lead the world in economic development. Not anymore.

Today, our roads are a mess. Our transit systems are an embarrassment when compared to those in much of Europe and Asia. And our utility systems, as most recently demonstrated by Hurricane Sandy, are pathetic. We cannot continue to ignore them.

But this piece is not about our utility systems. It’s about transit. And it is about the need for us as a country and a region to spend money on both public transit and roadways.

For some reason, thinking has emerged among a small coterie of people that a dollar spent on highway improvement, expansion, or maintenance is a dollar taken away from public transit. The argument I suppose goes something like this: every time a road is expanded or repaired it allows more people to escape to the suburbs; the suburbs are bad because they are an inefficient use of land and besides, they are boring; so we should not spend any money allowing people to live there. The flaws in this argument are that first, a lot of people already live there and second, the people who live there and those who want to are taxpayers too.

What we in our company see among the thirty-some thousand people who rent from us and the thousands who have bought homes from us is that people are different and have different tastes in where they want to live. An increasing number of people, and particularly those without children, want to live in-town, in very high density situations, and ideally, in a place where they can walk or take transit to everything. On the other hand, as they get older, many of these same people and others of all ages would rather live in a planned community in the suburbs or just in the suburbs. Many of these too would love to minimize time in their car but they can’t because low density doesn’t support public transport. The car is what these people use to get to work, to shop, and to get most everywhere else they need to go.

To argue that we should purposely refuse to maintain the roads these people need or refuse to build new ones based on the wish that doing so will force everyone to live in urban environments where they can walk to work strikes me as hopelessly naïve. It also strikes me as being fairly un-American; but then, that’s just me.

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Are We Overbuilding?

There is much discussion of apartment overbuilding. Are too many apartments being built nationally or even locally? Is a correction facing the apartment industry? I’m asked this question, in one form or another, all the time. And I have an answer; one that on the surface might appear trite but I believe is nonetheless accurate.

My answer is this: we are not overbuilding apartments; we are creating insufficient jobs. I say this because if you looked at demographics alone, this country needs far more than the 235,000 or so apartments the industry will build this year. With a population of young people almost as large as the Baby Boomers coming out of college, and with the deterioration and abandonment of older rentals, it is pretty generally agreed that we need to add 300,000 net new apartments every year just to stay even.

The problem is that, as everyone knows, we are living through a jobless recovery. Unless this changes, unless a real recovery begins soon, we may indeed be producing more apartments than can be quickly absorbed despite overwhelming demographic demand.

Now there are many explanations of why our recovery has been so painfully slow, many provided by people a lot better trained in economics than me. But one thing on which almost everyone agrees is that the behavior of our federal government during the past two years has caused, or at least significantly contributed to, monumental uncertainty in the business community. The result has been a kind of widespread paralysis that has caused many business and non-profit executives to hesitate to add to their workforce.

So, as we sit here just before a presidential election, what is absolutely clear to me is that whoever is elected President, and whoever is elected to Congress, must have one single priority and that is to create an environment of predictability sufficient for business leaders to once again make long range plans. Everything else is secondary.

And to those of you who may read this, I implore you to keep this in mind on November 6th.

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Characteristics of a Bozzuto Employee — What We Seek When Hiring

August 22, 2012
Employment, Featured, Reflections

A friend recently lost a “Toastmaster’s” competition, and when I offered my consolation he reminded me that years ago I told him I preferred to hire people who had experienced an occasional defeat in their lives.   Thinking about that conversation, especially in light of the large number of unemployed people in this economy, I thought it might make sense to write a post on what kind of people The Bozzuto Group looks for when we do our hiring.  And we do hire!  This year we will probably bring in more than 400 new employees and, with our continued growth plans, will continue to need a lot of new talent.

In order to make this informative, I decided to get help from an expert, Kristen Reese, the person in charge of all of our company’s hiring.  So, if you like what follows, credit Kristen.  If not, blame me.

First, we hire nice people. “Concern” for others is our company’s primary value. It is simply much easier to teach nice people the skills they need than it is to train skilled people to be nice.   And unless you’re dealing with a surgeon or a nuclear scientist, most of us do care about, and would prefer to deal with, nice people.

Secondly, we value intelligence and place a premium on education. Depending upon the position we are trying to fill, we will hire the best of both worlds.

Next, and as my friend reminded me, we are not necessarily looking for people who have won at everything they have ever tried.  Generally, people who win constantly can become a bit arrogant and maybe complacent.  We prefer people who have tasted defeat but not allowed it to hinder them, people who are a little humble and very “hungry.”

What do we mean by hungry?  Well, one of our corporate values is “passion.” So, when we say we are looking for “hungry” people, we mean that we are looking for people who are passionate – always pushing themselves to do and be better – because that is what makes them get up and go to work in the morning and feel great at the end of the day.

And we look for passion in everyone in our organization. From the Maintenance Manager whose new life in this country started with a less than desirable job while he learned a new trade, to the Director who served her country in the Navy before embarking on a civilian career, there are endless examples at every level and within every job of people who have faced challenge and found success because they bring passion to everything they do. We want to hire more of them!

While we want to hire someone who is motivated to succeed and advance, we also look for people who understand the importance of teamwork.  We reject the trite saying that “there is no ‘i’ in the word team.”  We believe that an individual flourishes best when she or he can work well with others on a team and someday, potentially motivate and lead that team.

We do look at and value experience.  But honestly, while experience and good credentials are important, just because someone has done something often or for a long time it doesn’t mean they are good at it. Many times I’d prefer we hire someone with energy, initiative and creativity over someone who has done “it” (whatever “it” may be) a thousand times before.

Surely, there are other characteristics we look for when we hire.  We value diversity within our ranks and we look for sociable people with focus, integrity, common sense, and dignity, especially dignity. And clearly, part of the hiring process is the result of the personal relationship that builds between the candidate and the interview team.  But if you put all of this together with what we’ve written above, you will understand more clearly why our culture is so strong and consistent and what it is that defines the perfect Bozzuto employee.

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Tom Bozzuto

The Bozzuto Group CEO

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Mike Schlegel

Bozzuto Construction Company President

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The Bozzuto Group

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Julie Smith

Bozzuto Management Company President

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John Slidell

The Bozzuto Group Founding Partner

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